SOURCE – Restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese parent CEC Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, making it the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic that has crushed entertainment and leisure industries globally.
The company described the current crisis as the “most challenging” in its history and said it would use the bankruptcy proceedings to continue talks with stakeholders and landlords, as well as restructure its balance sheet.
Pour one out for Charles Entertainment Cheese.
I know this is a tough pill to swallow (or a tough pizza to chew). It feels as though your childhood is no longer financially stable enough to stay afloat. If one thing remains true about Chuck E. Cheese, aside from the fact that a majority of the employees probably – at one point – had sex in the ball pit, it’s that it truly was a place where a kid can be a kid. It was the only place in America where you needed a fake I.D. to be younger, because people over the age of 18 weren’t allowed in without the accompaniment of a child. My guess is to limit the Chris D’Elia’s from getting in.
But you’re probably sitting there wondering, “Where am I supposed to get my friendship bracelets, spider rings, and Chinese finger traps now?” Or “Will Munch’s Make Believe Band ever play another gig again?” Or maybe you’re still wondering if the spots around your waiter’s mouth was really bad acne or cold sores?
I don’t have the answer to those questions right now. None of us do. Except for the one about your waiter. It was cold sores. But everything else, who knows? What I do know is bankruptcy isn’t the end-all-be-all. Dippin’ Dots filed for bankruptcy like eight years ago, and it’s still the ice cream of the future. Barely.
So can Chuck survive this? Yes. Will he? Probably. You don’t get the middle name Entertainment without knowing the industry like the back of your rat paw. I’d be willing to bet Charles is filing for bankruptcy under the Chuck E. Cheese name. But what about Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings? I’ve watched enough Billions to know this is how it works. Eat the losses with one company, only to secretly move funds to the other. Then you’ll have a different Chuck (Rhodes) chasing you down, but by that point, it’ll be too late. You’ll be too rich to fail.
Chuck may be desperately treading water, but Pasqually is livin’ large sippin’ root beer from a souvenir plastic cup on his yacht. Chuck is in debt, sure. But Pasqually is skating by the IRS through loopholes (both legal and illegal). This move is actually brilliant. It’s chess, not checkers. Then again, what do you expect from a guy who’s been brilliant enough to keep a band full of random animals (and one mustached chef?) together to book and play gigs multiple times a night at the same venue for over 40 years?
You don’t think Charles knows what the hell he’s doing? His business has overcome DZ: Discovery Zone, multiple Law & Order: SVU crimes being committed within its walls, and now a global pandemic. I think he can withstand a rough patch in his finances. Plus, people keep hosting their children’s birthdays there despite the fact that the tubes of their indoor playgrounds carry more infectious diseases than most CDC test tubes.
People think the polio vaccine killed the virus? Nope, it’s just chillin’ on the slides at Chuck E. Cheese.
Am I bummed? Of course. You wouldn’t be human and/or an animatronic musician if you weren’t a little sad right now. But am I confident Chuck will get back on his lil’ rodent feet? Let me answer your question with another question. Does a bus boy poop in the ball pit?